MENA innovators blow up a tech storm [Infographic]

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In February a powerful sandstorm swept up from the Sahara, engulfing Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan in a haze of dust.

Wind speeds of up 60 kilometers an hour, according to Lebanese forecasters, carrying what felt to many like half the Sahara desert are categorically not the kind of energy source wind farmers are looking for. But it’s this potential that makes parts of the whole MENA region imminently suitable for wind turbines.

As governments from Saudi Arabia to Morocco sink money into large-scale wind farms, MENA entrepreneurs are tinkering with the very technology that makes those turbines turn.

As Global Wind Day kicks off on June 15, Wamda looks at the entrepreneurs who are becoming forces to reckon within their own right.

Tunisian startup Saphon Energy founders Anis Aouini and Hassine Labaied are pioneering a whole new kind of turbine. They’ve done away with the traditional three-blade turbine and created a single non-rotational sail which follows a 3D ‘knot’ motion.

Jordan’s Taqetna (Arabic for ‘our energy’) has also reconstructed the turbine, with a vertical one-meter-high design that founder Mahmoud Shattel says is two-to-four times as efficient as traditional models. Shattel hopes to make the turbine cheap enough for individual use.

Independent Wind Palestine is bringing wind power to the West Bank as the first large scale wind energy provider in the territory. Egypt’s GREENewable, led by Ain Shams University student Khaled Elbahtety, wants to put turbines on power poles next to highways to capture the wind energy created by speeding vehicles.

Wind energy may still be the preserve of wealthy energy corporations, governments and cashed-up research institutions in the Middle East and North Africa. But entrepreneurs throughout the region are finding new ways to both subvert the traditional modes of generation and bring wind energy to the masses.

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